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Is Raw Food Superior to Cooked Food?

By Don Bennett, DAS

Just as there are many different diets, there are many different opinions about each one. And although everyone is entitled to their own opinions, everyone is not entitled to their own facts. But because of personal preferences and biases, especially when mixed with arrogance and ego, there are a lot of opinions masquerading as facts when it comes to raw food diets education.

I say "diets" plural, because here too, there is not agreement on which raw food diet is best, even though logic dictates there is one, assuming the criteria is that you want the best health possible, now and in the future. But this is another article.

First, before addressing the merits of this topic, I think it's a good idea to have an understanding of why some people, and indeed some educators, would contend that it's just fine to eat some cooked food (again, we're assuming that those considering a raw food diet are doing so because they want the best health their genetics will allow them to have). Obviously, if you can have equally robust health eating an all-raw diet as you can eating a diet that contains, say, 20% cooked food, then why not eat a "high raw" diet? It'll make it easier to fit in with friends and family, and easier to go out to eat.

Hypothetically, if, in reality, a "high raw" diet is not superior to an all-raw diet, in that a mostly raw diet will not allow you to have the best odds of avoiding degenerative disease throughout your entire life, then why is there this false equivalency?

1) Personal preference

Some people simply want to believe that they can eat some cooked food, and it won't make any difference in their health. When those eating a mostly raw, all vegan diet hear someone say that the cooked food portion can be vegan or not vegan and it doesn't matter from a health perspective, they know that this person is fooling themselves, and this person is merely believing what they want to believe so they can eat what they want to eat. No argument there; lots of people who don't want to eat an all vegan diet do this. But this confirmation bias is not exclusive to the vegan/animal debate; the fact that I have to write this article is proof of that. So personal preference can color the judgment of even the most intelligent person, thus affecting their ability to think about an issue with an eye towards reality. So if you are investigating this aspect of the raw food diet (high-raw vs all-raw), it would be good to take the possibility of "colored judgment" into account, even when listening to the popular raw food educators (because they are human too).

2) A desire to promote veganism

While veganism has tons of positives associated with it – better for the planet, for all the animals on the planet including humans, and all future humans – there is one undeniable negative. When staunch vegans contend that a vegan diet is the healthiest diet you can eat, and then say in the same breath that it doesn't have to consist of only raw fruits and veggies, and they go further to say that there is no evidence that an all-raw vegan diet is any better than a vegan diet that contains cooked food and fake meats and soy ice cream, this does a disservice to anyone who is considering a vegan diet because they want the best chance of healing their serious illness or want the best odds of never getting one.

Educators who are vegans "first and foremost" know that they will get more converts to veganism if people can eat the same meals they've always eaten, and this includes cooked foods. And while this is true, I'd ask, why can't these educators simply be honest with people, and explain that – just as with diets in general – there are poor, fair, good, better, and best vegan diets. And then they can go on to explain what they are, and add that which vegan diet you choose should depend on how healthy you want to be. But most vegan educators don't do that. They want to be seen as promoting the best diet, and they don't want to describe their diet as the second best vegan diet since that's the one that many people would want to eat; the educator wants their diet to be perceived as the best diet because this will help garner the most converts, even if in reality, it is the second best diet. But this is not being honest with those they educate. And I've heard them rationalize their approach by saying, "Yeh, but I'll get more people to convert to vegansim this way." And when I ask, "But what about the people who are looking for the healthiest diet?", their response is usually, "But they'll be healthier." Folks, "healthier" is not the same as "healthiest". And if it turns out that "healthiest" is required for the person to completely resolve their ill health and stay healthy for the remainder of their life, which is their goal, by withholding that information, educators do them a disservice.

3) The educator in question can't successfully eat an all-raw diet

Most educators don't want to seem hypocritical; they don't want to teach that an all-raw fruit-based vegan diet is the healthiest diet to eat if they can't manage to eat this way. And it doesn't matter why they can't (there are both physiological and psychological reasons), what matters is they don't want to appear to be a hypocrite, so instead they describe the diet they are able to eat (or choose to eat) as thee best diet. And if it's a high-raw vegan diet, and if they are good at promoting their work, what they teach becomes popular... even though it's incorrect information. Those educators who know that there is a healthier diet to teach possibly justify their actions because of how many people will experience improved health by changing to a much healthier diet than what they had been eating. But this is not being honest.

4) It's what they've always taught

If an educator has been teaching something for decades, such as, "Once you start eating enough fruits and vegetables you don't have to worry about nutrition", but then it becomes known that this is not necessarily true, if they're a proper educator, they will research the new info, and if it is found to be credible, they will adjust what they teach, and in this case, they will announce to their followers that what they had been teaching was incorrect. But if the educator has a big ego and sees no reason to peer-to-peer with educators who are their colleagues, or if he/she is afraid that making such an announcement will negatively impact their credibility, they will likely dig in their heels and continue to teach what they've always taught, and even attempt to discredit the new information if it starts gaining traction among the community. This is sad, but it is also human nature. And this is why I recommend vetting, not just the information that someone is teaching, but also the person who is teaching it. If they're found to have a large ego, this can affect the accuracy of what they teach.

5) Where's the studies?

Some vegan educators do not consider a raw food diet an option because they contend there are, as of yet, no studies that confirm the superiority of the diet. These "academic" educators rely on placebo-controlled, double-blinded, peer-reviewed studies and studies published in scientific journals. And that's all well and good, but these kinds of studies are not the only tools available to a researcher; we can also use logic, rational, critical thinking, and empirical evidence. Plus, being that there are actual studies which show the superiority of eating uncooked foods, it's possible that the "there aren't any studies yet" is more of an excuse than an actual reason, and that they do this because of #2 above (the desire to convert as many people as possible to a vegan diet).

6) The desire to be popular because it generates more money

We can't leave this topic without considering another reason why some educators promote a high-raw diet, contending that it is just as healthy as an all-raw diet. But since these educators usually appear to be very sincere, down-to-earth, caring, honest, etc., it's difficult if not impossible for some people to tell them apart from the actual sincere, down-to-earth, caring, honest educators. And so these "educators" are very convincing, and, unfortunately, very popular, yet their information is flawed even though tons of people believe it to be 100% accurate. The moral? The most popular information is not necessarily the most correct information. This is why I recommend learning as a researcher and not as a student.


Don Bennett is an insightful, reality-based author, and health creation counselor who uses the tools in his toolbox – logic, common sense, critical thinking, and independent thought – to figure out how to live so you can be optimally healthy. More about Don's books, which explain why a raw food diet is indeed superior to a "high-raw" diet, at health101.org/books

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